Big Think Competition

⚠️ Submissions for the 2023 competition are now CLOSED.

Enter our Big Think Competition!

We are inviting students across the UK to tackle one of our academics’ ‘big’ questions. These have been specially designed to challenge you beyond your normal school curriculum and get you thinking big about your subject and what it might be like to study it at university. Simply record a video of 5 minutes or less presenting your arguments, research, evidence or opinions.

The Prize

Our winners will receive:

  • £100 1st Prize
  • £50 2nd Prize
  • £35 Subject Commendations

Winners will also all be invited to Oxford for the day where they will get to discuss their entries with subject tutors, tour round with current students and enjoy lunch in our Wolfson Hall.

To enter you must:

  • live in the UK
  • attend a state school
  • be in Year 11, Year 12 or Year 13

How to enter:

  • Send us a video of no more than 5 minutes in length.
  • You don’t need any fancy equipment, you can film it on your phone if you like – we will be judging based on your engagement with the questions.
  • Your video doesn’t have to include your face if you don’t want – feel free to get creative! You could narrate a PowerPoint, record you drawing or even apply your TikTok-making skills…
  • Submit your video as an unlisted YouTube video or via WeTransfer when completing the entry form.
  • Entries close Monday 1st May 2023. Good luck!
old bookcase


What can we learn from reading books whose attitudes we dislike?

Submit your video here

Earth Sciences

How unique is Earth as a habitable planet?

Submit your video here

colourful lights in an office building exterior

Economics & Management

Are CEOs overpaid?

Submit your video here

3 paintings in a gallery, a person sits in front of them

Fine Art

Does placing art in a museum build a wall around it or make it more accessible?

Submit your video here


Is privacy dead? Should it be?

Submit your video here

Poor French Protestant


Does language influence society or society influence language?

Submit your video here

blue background, molecular structure of adrenaline


To what extent can Chemistry solve the greatest problems facing our times?

Submit your video here



How can we retrieve the ideas of people who left no written records?

Submit your video here


Are device longevity and repairability important when designing consumer electronics (eg. smartphones)?

Submit your video here



Can important decisions be made on the basis of mathematical models only?

Submit your video here


If I have less money than you, am I less free than you? 

Submit your video here


Medical Sciences

How does the environment influence our brain?

Submit your video here



Will we ever discover extraterrestrial life?

Submit your video here

Black background, blue head with sky pattern


Is social media making us unhappy?

Submit your video here

Meet the Panel

Sam wears a suit on a dark grey background

Dr Sam Fowles is a public lawyer with a particular interest in constitutional, administrative, information, and planning/environmental law, inquests, and public inquiries. He is a member of the faculty at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford and serves as the Director of the Institute for Constitutional Research. His book, ‘Overruled: Confronting Our Vanishing Democracy in 8 Cases’, is an Amazon bestseller.

Marie Leger

Marie Leger teaches Modern Languages and Linguistics. She teaches the first and second year students at St Edmund Hall all about French translation and grammar. She also teaches French to students of all abilities at the University Language Centre.

Tom MacFaul

Dr Tom Macfaul splits his time between teaching and pursuing his own research. He is especially interested in early modern writers like Shakespeare and he has published books on this such as ‘Male Friendship in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries’ and ‘Problem Fathers in Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama’. He is currently working more on the Romantic period, looking at authors such as Wordsworth, Keats and Byron. This questions draws on his own interests in how these writers respond to ideological and political changes in their work.

Professor Filippo de Vivo teaches History at St Edmund Hall. Having studied in Milan, Cambridge and Paris, his research focuses on the history of communication and politics in Italy and the Mediterranean.

Orlando Lazar

Dr Orlando Lazar teaches Politics and PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) students at St Edmund Hall. He specialises in the theory of politics, and he enjoys teaching students about this in their topics on Marxism and Feminism. His own research has looked at applying these theories to issues such as domination and power in the workplace

David Dupret

Professor David Dupret teaches Neurosciences to our students. His research group is looking at how the different regions of the brain help us use memories to guide our behaviour.

Iana Alexeeva in blue jumper

Iana is a lecturer in Psychology at St Edmund Hall, and teaches on a variety of topics in Psychology from psychological disorders to information processing. In particular, she is interested in how cognitive and emotional processes play a role in coping with illness and treatment.

Michael Gill

Having previously worked in sales and marketing for various FMCG companies and as a strategy consultant, Professor Michael Gill teaches Management to students at the Hall. His research examines individuals’ experiences of modern work.

Claire Nichols

Professor Claire Nichols has been teaching Earth Sciences at Teddy Hall since 2021. After initially aspiring to be a theoretical physicist, she quickly discovered the practical side of Earth Sciences was a much better fit and particularly enjoyed field trips and the opportunities to travel to remote places. Claire uses magnetism as a novel tool to understand planetary formation and the environment of early Earth.

Early Career Teaching and Outreach Fellow, Tom Crawford, better known as Tom Rocks Maths, poses in the Front Quad at St Edmund Hall

Dr Tom Crawford is tutor in Mathematics at St Edmund Hall but you might have heard of him as Tom Rocks Maths on YouTube. He uses his specialism in Applied Mathematics to produce accessible content on his channel, as well as working with the BBC and Numberphile.

Carly Howett

Professor Carly Howett teaches Physics at the Hall but is also a planetary physicist who specialises in space studies. She helps to develop new instruments allowing us to explore the solar system and has been a part of several projects at NASA.

Isabel stands in a field, wearing a suit

Isabel Creed is a DPhil candidate at St Edmund Hall, having done her second Masters degree with Teddy Hall, and also teaches some Physical Chemistry. She is also a lecturer in Physical Chemistry at Exeter College and Mathematics for Chemists at Merton College.

Paul Goulart

After initially studying Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, Professor Paul Goulart went on to specialise in Control Engineering. He now teaches Engineering Sciences to our undergraduate students at the Hall.

Gina Koutsika at a busy event, three quarters profile

Gina is Ashmolean’s Director of Audiences & Content, Trustee at the Jewish Museum London, Governor at the Gateway Academy, School Leader at the Orthodox Cathedral of the Divine Wisdom and Fellow of the Museums Association and of the Royal Society of Arts. She has lead teams in six national cultural institutions, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Imperial War Museums, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Tate, Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.